Google and Facebook share my personal information – very probably   3 comments

On the internet, like on the street, only share what you would with your granny.
This lessons from a case so simple it could be a lab experiment.
What happened:
  1. Few days ago, an acquaintance of mine joined facebook
  2. facebook has been suggesting this person as "friend" for me
  3. Until yesterday, this person had zero friends and zero activities on facebook
  4. To this day, information this person has posted on facebook is extremely limited: name, birthday, sex, email address –
    I know, because I invited him as friend, and accepting was their first facebook activity.
  5. Information I posted on facebook *almost* certainly excludes references to this person’s name, birthday, email address 

So, how did facebook find out we are acquainted?

Google and bing searches of our combined names and surnames yield a generic wikipedia list of Italian names and other links to name lists (petition signatories and the like).

This person and I did exchange email, so Facebook just might have tapped into our exchanges, or acquired mail tapping information. Quite unlikely, I believe.

On the other hand, there is a google group – private, non searchable – that we share with less than a dozen other people.

That google and facebook shared this information is at least a reasonable guess.

The even more plausible, more general lesson is: information that internet operators are legally allowed to share, beyond what each of us can realize or find through search engines, allows them to make valuable connections about our personal lives.


Posted September 20, 2009 by Gianluca Marcellino in Computer e Internet

3 responses to “Google and Facebook share my personal information – very probably

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  1. Impressive. So now that we are fb friends and I commented on your blog authenticated (automatically!) with my Live account will be a hint to be suggested as myspace friends? Uh 🙂


  2. I\’d like to know how a person comes to the idea to use his/her real name in logging in Facebook or in similar "social networks"! Even children know that the main idea behind these sites is not to rejoin old friends, but to collect infos about individuals… Their purpose? Commercial or otherwise. (Myspace is almost the same. Twitter is definitively the same — And there are also worse sites out there!)


  3. Pingback: Two Years on Facebook – Lessons Learned « Gianluca Marcellino – appunti personali – personal notes

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